Engineer heads list of confirmed ambassadors

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MANILA -- The Congressional Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday confirmed the nomination of 16 ambassadors to various diplomatic posts abroad, including that of an engineer who somehow ended up representing the country’s interests in war-torn Iraq.


Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who broke her sick leave to preside over the bicameral commission’s foreign affairs committee hearing on the nomination of the foreign officers, was reading into the record the curriculum vitae of the diplomat nominees when she came across that of Edsel Barba.

“You’re an engineer. What are you doing in public service?” Santiago asked Barba.

Barba hesitated just a little before taking a stab at humor.

“To build bridges across nations,” he said, drawing laughter from the gallery that included his colleagues in the foreign service.

Not to be outdone, Santiago shot back: “I will cite you in contempt for using a cliché.”

The senator then went on to recommend Barba’s nomination to the CA plenary.

The other ambassadors whose nominations were endorsed by the Santiago committee and who were subsequently confirmed were: Rowena Sanchez, the country’s ambassador to Turkey; Ma. Theresa Lazaro, France and Monaco; Victoriano Lecaros, Czech Republic; Cecilia Rebong, Switzerland;

Jaime Victor Ledda, the Netherlands; Narciso Castañeda, Oman; Eduardo Martin Menez, Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; Vicente Vivencio Bandillo, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives; Catalino Dilem, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Cuba;

Jose Cuisia, the United States, US Virgin Islands, Grenada, Puerto Rico, with additional jurisdiction over Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Haiti; Eleanor Jaucian, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, and additional jurisdiction over Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova; Enrique Manalo, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, with additional jurisdiction over the Republic of Ireland;

Bayani Mercado, Norway, Iceland and Denmark, with additional jurisdiction over Finland and Sweden; Patricia Paez, Poland, with additional jurisdiction over Latvia and Lithuania; and George Reyes, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, with additional jurisdiction over Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. (

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